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February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. The purpose of Pet Dental Health Month is to raise awareness that pets need dental care. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease by the time they are three years old.

Although our cats and dogs are domesticated, their ancestors evolved to hide symptoms of injury or weakness in order to survive in the wild. Modern pets have retained this characteristic. Therefore, your pet may be suffering in painful silence from a hidden dental condition such as a tooth root abscess, a broken tooth, dental decay, or inflammation/infection of the structures surrounding the teeth (periodontitis). Often, the only thing that you might notice is that your dog no longer plays with chew toys or that your cat paws at her/his mouth more frequently. Once a tooth becomes infected, it will require either a root canal treatment or extraction.

It’s not just bad breath you are combating when your pet has his/her annual dental examination and cleaning. Dental disease is a serious health condition. Bacteria under the gum line can affect more than just your pet’s teeth and gums. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.

Dental disease is probably one of the most under-recognized serious health risks for our pets. In part because animals cannot tell us if their teeth or gums hurt and they try to hide symptoms. Therefore, it is important to visit your veterinarian at least once per year for a dental examination and professional cleaning. Your veterinarian can also recommend the appropriate dental treatment to keep your pets pearly whites looking and feeling good for life.

The main culprits that cause the development of a dental infection are dental plaque and tartar. When plaque and tartar are first deposited on the teeth, they cause gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Over time, bacteria and other organisms invade the inflamed tissues, causing an infection. Left untreated, they will spread, causing stomatitis (general infection of the mucous membranes of the mouth) or periodontitis (an infection of the ligaments, soft tissues and bones that anchor the teeth in place). Ultimately, oral disease will lead to tooth loss.

Fractured teeth can also lead to the development of tooth infection. The most common causes of tooth fractures are playing catch with hard objects and chewing on hard objects such as bones or rocks.Teeth may break on the tip or cusp, on the side (called a slab fracture), or along the root. Tip or cusp fractures are usually fairly visible, but both slab and root fractures may go unnoticed to a pet owner until an abscess forms.

Another major cause of tooth infections in pets is dental decay. In dogs it is relatively uncommon, estimated at less than 10% of all dental problems. However, in cats, enamel decay or erosion is a very common problem known by several different names including “oral resorptive lesions”, “neck lesions”, “cervical line erosions”, and other terms. When the protective enamel of the tooth is damaged or lost, bacteria will quickly infect the tooth and surrounding bone. The teeth ultimately become brittle and parts of them snap off, leaving behind fragments that cause further problems.

Regular dental examinations, annual professional dental cleanings, and daily brushing of your pet’s teeth will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!

Please visit the dental sections of our website to learn more about dental health, how to brush your pet’s teeth, and what is entailed in professional dental cleanings.




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Mon - Fri 7:30am - 5:30pm
Sat: 8 AM – 10 AM (Boarding and food/prescription pickup ONLY)